Airport complies but risk remains

BALLINA Shire Council has defended the security and screening processes at Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport, confirming that it meets all Federal Government requirements.

Over the weekend a Sydney newspaper reported that passengers on up to 12 flights a week were not being screened at the airport.

The report quoted terrorism and security expert Dr Carl Ungerer from the Australian Policy Institute, who said it was "a serious gap".

"And terrorists will always look for the weakest point in any security system," he told the newspaper.

"The current danger is someone taking a bomb on board."

The airport is owned and operated by Ballina Shire Council.

The council's general manager, Paul Hickey, yesterday said all security and screening processes at the airport were in line with Federal Government legislation.

"We comply," he said.

"This is Federal Government legislation that we're talking about - the government obviously assesses the risks and we abide by those rules."

Under the legislation, Rex flights which use 34-seater Saabs, weighing under 13,000kg, are not required to be screened.

Mr Hickey said there were 10 of those flights in and out of Ballina each week.

"The security costs are shared by the airlines and the consumer," he said.

"So if security had to be increased, those costs could be passed on to passengers.

"This is not an issue that is just unique to Ballina - it is an issue at regional airports all over Australia.

"But the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport is going really well at the moment."

 



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